The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) explained the Commission's activities over the past financial year, including engagements with private and public sector entities and civil society as well as input on legislation. It was explained (and this was later expanded upon during the questions) that CGE essentially played a monitoring role. It had made various comments and engagements, participated in conferences and briefings and made input on legislation to Parliament. The work of the three departments was described. It was noted that not all targets set out in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) had been met, but management was taking steps to remedy this by the end of the financial year. The CGE was monitoring two departments per year for their compliance with the Victim’s Charter, and had identified a lack of forensic health training for health workers, which affected their examinations of victims and collection of evidence. A gender barometer study was ongoing in provincial and local government. It was monitoring implementation of the 365 Days National Action Plan, and had identified some structural and systemic challenges, including poor planning, lack of coordination and accountability, capacity issues and confusion as to which stakeholders had what responsibilities. Although the plan was costed there was insufficient state budget to implement and evaluate it fully. Policy briefs had been drafted on land study, widowhood, the private sector, a water study, and
education, and these highlighted failures in both the public and private sectors to prioritise gender mainstreaming and gender equity. CGE was engaging on them with different departments and would be making reports that should then contribute to further debate. It highlighted a problem that insufficiently senior staff tended to attend the dialogues. The legal department made input into the Traditional Courts Bill, and also held its own public hearings, so CGE was satisfied that it was representing grassroots views. It commented on various other pieces of legislation. It had held gender transformation hearings, following a complaints by South African Women's Football Association (SAWFA) that women’s football and gender transformation were insufficiently addressed at federation level. There had been calls for gender mainstreaming following provincial employment equity hearings. CGE’s public education unit had held dialogue on maternity benefits for self-employed women, in partnership with COSATU, and CGE was trying to push for ratification of the ILO Convention on maternity benefits. Concept papers were drawn to guide provincial activities during the 16 Days of Activism, the UN Unite To End Violence against Women’s campaign was adopted, and consultative dialogue was held on sex work, to be followed up with a position paper. In the provinces, CGE had intervened in cases on ukuthwala. The financial report noted that there was underspending in this quarter by 8%, although some line items under travel and administration had overspent. The underspending was mainly attributed to staff vacancies of which all but three had since been filled. CGE had a healthy balance sheet and it was solvent. Most of the assets were in cash. It did need to replace IT equipment and motor vehicles. Although it had a surplus, which was used to generate interest, it could not spend this without permission from National Treasury. The sources of income and revenues were noted and the Committee was assured that all the audit issues raised by the Auditor-General were being addressed.
Members asked for more information about the policy briefs and dialogues, questioning which departments and political parties had been engaged, and the reasons. They expressed concern about the inadequate budget allocations and planning on the 365 Days Action Plan. Questions were asked about the number of cases before the Commission, and why only eight instances of litigation had been presented. A Member asked why there was engagement with COSATU only on the maternity benefits. Several members asked how the Commission was addressing the auditing issues that it faced. Vacancies were discussed, and overexpenditure analysed. The discussion also looked into the Employment Equity Hearings in all the provinces and covered the Commission's media outreach plans for the future.
Commission for Gender Equality performance and expenditure covering April to September 2012 Introductory Comments by Chairperson of Commission for Gender Equality
Mr Shozi Mfanozelwe, Chairperson, Commission for Gender Equality, explained the origins and purposes of the Commission (CGE or the Commission). Its Commissioners had engaged the Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, participated in the National Council on Gender Based Violence (GBV Council), participated in the committee meetings of the National Gender Machinery (NGM) and contributed to the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill. They had also held Employment Equity hearings in all provinces and engaged with faith based organisations, traditional leadership, political parties, institutions supporting democracy and other stakeholders. CGE had been asked to present in Parliament on various issues, including the Annual Report 2011/12 and the Strategic Plan for 2012/13, and had commented on Bills including WEGE, the Traditional Courts Bill (TCB) and the Remuneration Bill. Commissioners had intervened in forced marriage cases and monitored relevant cases in court. Commissioners had also spoken on radio and television and collaborated on gender issues with other countries.
Ms Keketso Maema, Chief Executive Officer, Commission for Gender Equality, reported on CGE's performance for the period April to December 2012. Not all targets agreed to in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) had been met, and management was taking steps to remedy this by the end of the financial year. In the first quarter, CGE mainly concentrated on Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) compliance processes and submission of financial statements, strategic plans and reports to Parliament, the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) and the National Treasury (NT). In the second and third quarters, activities planned in the APP were rolled out and executed.
Reports were then given of the work of the three departments of research, legal and public education and information department.
In the current financial year, the research department focused on:
- Policy briefs/dialogues
- Monitoring/evaluation of the Victims Charter
- Gender barometer
- 365 Days Action Plan
- Building capacity and skills
The Victims Charter (2004) listed seven essential rights of victims of crime, and the research of the CGE was focused on monitoring the implementation from a gender equality perspective.
Each year, CGE monitored two departments per year for their compliance with the Charter, and in this year the focus was on the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS). Field work identified one stop centres, health and correctional facilities for analysis. The draft analysis report for this period showed a lack of forensic health training for health workers, which affected their examinations of victims and collection of evidence. The final report w as currently being printed.
The gender barometer was a web-based tool for evaluating gender mainstreaming in the public sector. The study was in its second phase, which was focused on provincial and local government. CGE trained stakeholders and departmental personnel in the correct use of the tool, began evaluations of two departments and two municipalities per province, and began redesigning the tool to make it simpler, due to some technical difficulties. The tool would be finalised in the next quarter.
CGE was monitoring the implementation of the 365 Days National Action Plan. The CEO said that there had been some problems with implementing the plan, despite the commitments of stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society. The Commission's report was launched during the 16 Days of Activism (25 November – 10 December). The study done by the research department showed that the Plan had structural and systemic challenges, including poor planning, lack of coordination and accountability, capacity issues and confusion as to which stakeholders had what responsibilities. The plan was costed, but the state budgetary allocation was inadequate to implement, monitor and evaluate it.
CGE had developed draft policy briefs on land study, widowhood, the private sector, a water study, and on
education. Various failures in the public and private sectors to prioritise gender mainstreaming and gender equity were highlighted in the presentation, with reference to the Water Study, Education and Widowhood reports.
Thirteen policy dialogues with different departments were held, informed by the policy briefs, and CGE would be making its previous research and reports available to policy-makers, which would contribute to public policy debates, respect and protection for gender equality in decision-making. It was unacceptable that some senior managers had been sending Gender Focal Persons (GFPs) to these dialogues, because the programme was meant to target policy- and decision-makers.
CGE participated in the country-wide Traditional Court Bill hearings, in order to present its own views and monitor. The CGE also held its own hearings in North-West Province to engage with communities directly, and was satisfied that its submissions represented the views of those on the ground.
The legal division also made input into: :
- The CGE Amendment Act
- Green Paper on Families
- Guidelines of Film and Publications Act
- Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill
- Criminal Law Amendment Bill (Sexual Offences and Related Matters)
- Labour Relations Amendment Bill
The Commission had also held Gender Transformation Hearings. A complaint received from the South African Women's Football Association (SAWFA) led to a hearing with the South African Football Association (SAFA) to address the promotion of women's football and gender transformation within SAFA.
CGE's provincial offices held Employment Equity Hearings in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. As a result, there were calls for gender mainstreaming in various departments and private companies. The remaining provinces would hold hearings in the 4th quarter.
During the period April to September, CGE offices received 467 cases and closed or finalised 167 of those files. Eight instances of CGE-driven litigation before various courts were supplied, including matters of Xhosa lineage, divorce, unlawful eviction, domestic violence and rape.
The Commission's three departments had formed three working groups to monitor and report on three instruments that South Africa had ratified: The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These groups were finalising and verifying research gathered from selected departments.
Public Education and Information (PEI) Department
CGE had held dialogues, seminars and intervention sessions, on the following:
- Maternity benefits, in partnership with COSATU, where the Commission discussed maternity benefits for self-employed women. Recommendations included engaging with the Ministry on Women, Children and People with Disability and the Portfolio Committee on Labour, about the non-ratification of the ILO Convention on maternity benefits.
- 16 Days of Activism activities, where it was noted that CGE developed a concept paper to guide provinces' activities, to raise awareness of CGE and strengthen existing partnerships. Various launches, dialogues and interventions were held.
- UN Unite to End Violence against Women Campaign was adopted by CGE,
- The AGDI (Africa Gender and Development Index) was a tool for measuring gender inequality in African states and assessing progress made by governments towards gender equality and women's empowerment. On 10-11 December 2012, the CGE had arranged AGDI training for CGE staff and commissioners, as well as for stakeholders such as Sonke Gender Justice, StatsSA and the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD). A full report on this training would be available in the next quarter.
-Consultative dialogue was done on sex work and a draft concept document produced. A position paper would be adopted in the 4th quarter. Stakeholders, including the Legal Resources Centre, and unions COSATU and FEDUSA were asked to add to the research available on the legalising/criminalisation of sex work.
-CGE was participating in a Women's Political Participation Project with the National Democratic Institute (NDI), focusing on engaging political parties, and a political party assessment dialogue would be held in August 2013.
The presentation highlighted various interventions in Mpumalanga, Western Cape (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender issues), Northern Cape (capacity building for GFPs), Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal (ukuthwala or forced marriage), and the Report on the Workshop on violation of children's rights: Ukuthwala was tabled.
Four plenary meetings were held for the period under review, and the Handbook for Commissioners policy document was drafted and adopted.
CGE Financial activities and status 1 April to 31 December 2012
Mr Mushabi Putu, Chief Financial Officer, Commission for Gender Equality, reported on the financial performance during the period under discussion. He noted that CGE was fully accountable under the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) for funds that were appropriated by Parliament to it.
The budget in the 2012/13 financial year had increased by 6%. Expenditure was divided between the work of commissioners (budgeted at R10 million), governance and corporate support for IT, finance, human resources (budgeted at 10 million) and core service delivery (budgeted at R32 million). Compensation of employees consumed the bulk of the budget (R40.7 million of the R58.5 million budget). Actual spending activities could also be sourced in CGE's Strategic Plan document.
The CGE received transfers from the National Treasury via the Department of Women, Child and Persons with Disabilities. For the period under review, the CGE had received R43.9 million from this source, approximating 75% of its total budget. The remainder was contributed by donors (SABC and UNECA had donated R250 000 and R200 000 respectively) and interest on CGE funds in the bank (amounting to R487 667). The total income for this period totalled R44.9 million.
In the first quarter, R11 million was spent, which was an underspending, and this was due to vacancies. In the second quarter, the spending was at R15 million, with the higher amounts being due to the hosting of Women’s Month in August 2012, and in the third quarter it was at R13.9 million. Spending for the three quarters was at R40 million, compared to budget of R43.9 million, which was an underspending of 8%.
The underspending was mostly due to vacancies. In the first quarter, there were nine vacancies. Currently, there were three remaining.
There were some instances of overspending on line items for travel, accommodation, event-hosting and vehicle expenses, which were all critical to CGE's functioning. The Eskom hikes in prices had also increased spending on electricity.
As at 31 December 2012, CGE's balance sheet was healthy, with no solvency problems. Its assets exceeded its liabilities, by R13 million. Assets were mostly cash (liquid) and could therefore be translated to service any other debt. However, Mr Putu noted that there was an urgent need to replace IT equipment and motor vehicles, which were old, since good equipment was essential to the effectiveness of the Commission.
He noted that the Commission was unable to use surpluses from previous periods without permission from National Treasury, and it was awaiting feedback on a previous request. CGE was moving towards rectifying all of the previously-cited audit issues.
Translation/accessibility of policy briefs
Ms G Tseke (ANC) commended the CGE on its progress since 2009. She was concerned about the strengthening of public awareness, and the accessibility of CGE documents (particularly the policy briefs) for the rural population. She was concerned that the documents were in English.
Ms Maema replied that there was an annexure at the end of the “365 Days Action Plan” booklet, which showed the Commission's approach to various themes and the challenges remaining, especially in relation to the 365 Days Action Plan. It would be useful to have a meeting discussing these pamphlets. This table made it clear that translations were being done of pamphlets to other languages. The GBV, Human Trafficking and MDG pamphlets had already been translated into Sotho and Tswana. Translations were part of CGE's Strategic Plan, but they were very expensive and could not be undertaken simultaneously.
Gender Transformation Hearing with SAFA
Ms Tseke asked whether there had been any progress since the SAFA hearing. Female-dominant sports were not given priority in South Africa. Attempts to launch a premier league for netball in this country did not receive governmental support. She added that rugby, cricket and most sports federations needed to prioritise women's sports.
Ms Maema explained that the SAFA hearing emerged from a complaint CGE received, which was part of the reason there had not yet been engagement with other federations. Some follow-up meetings had taken place with SAFA and SAWFA, but some information was still not forthcoming.
Duplication of efforts in government departments
Ms Tseke spoke about CGE's violence against women campaigns, and commented that many of its efforts were duplicated in other departments, such as DWCPD. She asked how the terrible abuses could be tackled to have a real impact in the communities.
Ms D Ramodibe asked exactly what the relationship was between the DWCPD and the CGE, and how activities were coordinated.
Mr Shozi Mfanozelwe replied that the CGE was a monitoring body, working in accordance with the CGE Act and reporting to Parliament. The DWCPD had other responsibilities and mandates. Litigation was also a key mandate of the CGE. The Commission held the private sector to account on gender issues, as well as other bodies, including Parliament itself. Currently, however, he noted that the private sector was lagging behind, showed arrogance and some even claimed they were not aware of employment equity as a national policy.
Number of cases
Ms Tseke asked how many cases the Commission had carrying over previous years. She also asked why, if litigation was a prime mandate, only eight cases of litigation were pursued.
Ms E More (DA) added a query as to how many cases in total had been before the Commission during the year.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that litigation was expensive and CGE selected cases that were likely to set precedents for advancing gender equality. The 467 matters reported were ordinary cases over and above the eight key cases mentioned in the report.
Policy dialogues with departments
Ms C Diemu (COPE) asked with which departments CGE held dialogues.
Ms Sylvia Stevens-Maziya, CGE Member, replied that the specific departments included Labour, Education, Local Government and Home Affairs. CGE had also engaged with Eskom, Anglo-American, Water Board, Department of Human Settlements and Metros, including the City of Johannesburg, Tswane, Mogali City and other municipalities in Gauteng alone. She noted that CGE targeted heads of departments and municipal managers, who were the decision-makers. CGE would conduct a study, issue invitations, inform invitees that there would be a presentation, followed by robust engagement on the findings. CGE would insist upon producing properly-interrogated and robust reports without gaps.
The policy dialogue took the form of identifying the issues, holding dialogue in the provinces, creating a mechanism such as committees, or engaging with the Office on the Status of Women, and putting in place a plan of action to address the findings. CGE’s provincial offices would monitor the commitments made during the policy briefing. These commitments had clear timeframes and implementation plans that could be meaningfully measured. The aim was to ensure that balances were redressed and that policy documents and dialogues were realised and applied on the ground.
Engagement with political parties
Ms C Diemu noted that the Commission had noted engagement with three political parties and asked why they were chosen.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that the CGE involved all political parties, as political processes would have to be influenced to promote gender equality. Women's participation in political parties was important, and CGE had a project around that. The Union of Parliamentarians had reported an increase in women's participation in Parliament, but it was very slow, and CGE hoped to engage on this issue with the NDI Partnership and complete its report by around August 2013. The three parties mentioned were selected in this year because they held conferences on women's representation and responded to CGE's requests for engagement.
Underage marriages in KZN
Mr D Kekana (ANC) congratulated the Commission on its healthy financial report. He asked for more detail about the two underage marriages that CGE had prevented in the KZN, commenting that marriage as an institution was promoted, that the girls may have wanted to be married, and asking of their ages.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that the CGE Act empowered the Commission to intervene and stop underage marriages. In the first case in KwaZulu Natal (KZN), a family member approached the CGE and asked it to intervene. The CGE wrote to the MEC of Social Development and the Commissioner of Police, managed t arrange a meeting within five hours and send a letter to prevent the forced marriage. The girl was 13 years old and did not want to be married; she was offered by the family as a substitute when her older sister, who was supposed to be married and for whom lobola had been paid, had fallen pregnant. The other girl mentioned had been taken out of the family because they did not want to comply with the CGE's intervention.
He also mentioned a case in Limpopo of a 13 year-old girl who was married to a sangoma, and a case where a sixty-year-old woman had married an eight-year-old boy. CGE was investigating both cases. In these kinds of matters, its intervention would rarely be reported
Funds in the bank
Mr Kekana asked for the exact amount of money the Commission had in the bank that was generating interest.
Mr Mushabi Putu replied that as of the end of December 2012, CGE had R16.7 million in the bank.
Mr Kekana asked that the CGE must in the future report on private sector issues and gender equity, perhaps in conjunction with the Department of Labour.
Mr Kekana also wanted to hear more on the division of labour and existing hierarchical structures on gender equity, questioned how women were doing in traditional communities, if they were allowed to make decisions together with men, and if they were allowed to be priests, either of mainstream or independent churches.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that some of the cases CGE was litigating concerned women being allowed to take the throne in traditional communities.
Ms Maema agreed and said that CGE had engaged with traditional leadership, particularly the Shembe leadership in KZN, questioning underage marriages, and also with the various churches, who had been asked to provide a platform for CGE to talk to their members.
365 Days Action Plan
Ms L Van de Merwe (IFP) asked what challenges the Action Plan faced, and which stakeholders were the main culprits in keeping the plan from being implemented.
Ms More asked with which departments the Commission had met, and the level of compliance. She wondered why there had been inadequate budgetary allocation here when the financial report had been presented as healthy.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) said that any plan needed to be properly costed before it could be implemented, and she too commented on the remark in the report that there was “inadequate state budgetary allocation” for the Action Plan. She questioned why the plan was permitted to proceed without first establishing that there was sufficient financial support.
Ms Stevens-Maziya emphasised again that CGE had a monitoring role, explained its role in the GBV Council and said that the Council must address the lack of coordination and linkage. CGE played a role of cautioning Council and ensuring that it performed as expected. CGE conceded that regrettably there was not full implementation of the 365 Days Action Plan.
Ms More understood that CGE was a monitoring, not an implementing, body, but wanted actual feedback on the budgetary issues around the 365 Days Action Plan, and a list of departments with whom CGE engaged.
Mr Mfanozelwe reminded the Committee of the previous listing.
Ms Maema emphasised that the costing analysis was the responsibility of government, not CGE.
Policy brief follow-up
Ms Van de Merwe complimented the Commission on its well-presented, informative pamphlets, but wanted to know what follow up there would be after the initial input or monitoring, to ensure real implementation of the programmes.
Ms Maema said that CGE's strategic plan for next year would highlight the provinces to which CGE would be returning to monitor whether change had occurred. This was specifically in relation to the Employment Equity hearings.
Policy brief accessibility
Ms Van de Merwe asked whether the Commission had an arrangement, for example with the Government Communication and Information system (GCIS), to make the policy briefs available to grassroots communities.
Ms Maema said that CGE did not have a formal relationship with GCIS, but was aiming to establish one.
Meeting of deadlines
Ms Van de Merwe asked whether the January 2013 target for redesigning the gender barometer tool, and releasing a report on it had been met. She also asked if the January 2013 deadlines for submission of draft reports on the evaluation of the Victims Charter had been met.
Ms Maema said that the Department was busy consolidating reports on both the gender barometer tool and the Charter. Information was available on both, and the reports would soon be available.
Ms Van de Merwe noted that the Auditor General's (AG) report on the CGE showed that, out of 56 planned targets for 2012, only 25 were achieved. The report also stated that effective steps had not been taken to prevent “irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure”. She asked whether sufficient measures had been put in place to resolve all of these issues.
Ms Ramodibe asked for a list of all the actions CGE had taken to implement the findings in the AG's report.
Mr Putu replied that the CGE did have plans in place, that these were judged adequate by the Audit Committee, and that CGE was acting on those plans. Management was doing everything in its power to avoid unnecessary expenditure.
Ms Van der Merwe asked exactly how many vacancies there were, and when they would be filled.
Ms Maema replied that CGE's budget was very limited. At provincial level, CGE was considering how more responsibilities could be added to the provincial job descriptions, and how assets could be managed more carefully. These positions had been advertised in December 2012. Interviews were held to find a head of legal department, but no one suitable was found.
Mr Putu added that by December 2012, CGE had nineteen vacancies, including those of Chief Operating Officer, administrator, researcher, Resource Centre manager, legal officer, five provincial coordinators, complaints officer and head of legal services. The Human Resources division had intensified its recruitment processes. Some of these positions had been filled, and some appointments would be made in April 2013.
Mr Mfanozelwe said that CGE could not appoint commissioners, who were appointed by Parliament.
The Chairperson asked what the impact would be on the surplus if all positions were filled.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that the impact on the surplus would be dramatic.
Ms Van de Merwe asked about the status of equity targets in government.
Overexpenditure on travel, accommodation, telecommunications
Ms Van der Merwe asked if the Commission had made any arrangements with service providers to get the best deals on travel and accommodation, given that it was a Chapter 9 institution whose members needed to travel consistently, and whether it had the best telecommunications packages.
Ms Maema replied that CGE had made savings by using a better service provider for travel and accommodation. She noted the comments and said that CGE would try to reduce spending even further.
Specific case request
Ms Van de Merwe mentioned the recent case of a child sold for sexual favours by her parents for R20. The parents were out on bail of R500. She wondered if CGE would take up cases like this under the sexual violence/abuse programmes.
Ms Maema agreed that these were the kinds of cases CGE would address.
Gender Focal Persons (GFPs)
Ms More asked what GFPs were, and why the CGE did not want them at the policy dialogues.
Ms Stevens-Maziya explained that CGE would prefer that HODs and municipal managers (MMs) should attend the meetings and dialogues because they were more senior and could refer decisions taken at those meetings to the executive. GFPs did not have authority, although HODs and MMs did, to make binding commitments. She added that CGE also engaged with entities in the private sector such as hospitals, who had commented that the policy dialogues were very useful, highlighting issues to be taken up with their CEOs.
Ms Maema added that although GFPs ran the departments' gender programmes, they were employed at deputy director levels, and could not always engage effectively with CGE. CGE aimed to pin down the policy-makers so that CGE could return and measure departments' progress.
Employment Equity Hearings
Ms More said that only one province had been mentioned and asked about the status of the other provinces. It had been reported that the last hearings would happen in the last quarter of 2012/13, and she wondered if the hearings had happened or were still due, before the end of the quarter.
Ms Stevens-Maziya replied that all except one of the Employment Equity Hearings had been completed and the last would be held in Eastern Cape next week. Five commissioners were present at the hearings. A statement was sent to the Department of Labour, and monitored by CGE. CGE ensured the presence at these hearings of HODs, the public, including media, and the private sector. CGE had also subpoenaed some departments to come and present on their processes.
Ms Maema said that momentum was continuing into the current year.
Call for specificity in terms of “provinces”
Ms More asked exactly which provinces have done what in relation to the 16 Days of Activism activities coordinated by CGE. She asked for provincial highlights of the provinces not already mentioned in the report, especially in Gauteng, which was a small, but densely populated province.
Ms Maema said that the provincial highlights did not cover everything that was done in each province, and in future a full report would be submitted. In relation to the 16 Days of Activism, the activities were province-specific and flexible and provinces decided for themselves what their focus would be.
UN Unite Campaign
Ms More asked when the CGE adopted the “UN Unite”, and what the deadlines were for compliance with this campaign.
Ms Maema said that on the 25th of each month, CGE staff wore orange as a visible reminder of the campaign.
Consultative dialogue on sex work
Ms More asked when the position paper on sex workers was to be issued.
Ms Maema said that the position paper was adopted in the CGE's last plenary and the CGE was still discussing how to distribute the paper.
Ms Lamoela asked why the Commission chose to partner only with COSATU on this dialogue, pointing out that there were several other highly qualified bodies that worked also in this field.
The Chairperson asked what CGE did to help self-employed women in this position retain their jobs.
Mr Mfanozelwe commented that Ms Lamoela’s question had political overtones.
Ms Lamoela said that this was not what she had said or meant; she had a very good reason for asking the question.
The meeting decided to determine this as a question of “a sensitive nature”.
The Chairperson explained that COSATU, as a union, was involved in the process of maternity benefits and thus seemed an appropriate partner on this issue. He referred to COSATU as a like-minded institution for partnering CGE. The Commission did invite other institutions and political parties to participate. South Africa had not ratified the ILO Convention on maternity benefits, and CGE set out to address this.
Ms Maema added that although CGE had partnered with COSATU, other entities were also invited. CGE tried to involve all the stakeholders working in the labour sector.
Internal functioning of the CGE
Ms Lamoela asked whether there were any disciplinary actions taken against employees during the period under review.
Ms Maema said that in the previous financial year, CGE investigated provincial coordinators, who were claiming for kilometers travelled using CGE's fleet, when they were not permitted to use the fleet vehicles. Some of the matters had been finalised, leading to some vacancies. No new disciplinary issues had emerged for the period under discussion.
Ms Lamoela asked if performance bonuses were given, in which case she wanted to know to whom, and in what amounts.
Mr Mfanozelwe noted that the CGE did pay bonuses to staff who performed well in the previous financial year of 2011/12, and these were reflected in the documents. No bonuses had been paid in the current financial year.
Ms Lamoela asked if SABC and UNECA were the only donors.
Ms Lamoela asked if the position of Chief Operations Officer had been filled.
Ms Maema said that the COO position was not filled. Commissioners must still decide what this position entailed and how it was to be advertised, due to complications with internal processes. CGE was still looking into this matter.
Ms Lamoela asked if there had been any instances of maladministration or misconduct in connection with CGE affairs, and if the Commission had rectified the problems identified by the AG. She also enquired if there were any problems with skills or staff in the financial department, and if the CGE was satisfied with the current situation. She asked if there were any irregularities in the Commission's bank account, and asked for a more detailed explanation of what was paid for which activities. She also asked for clarification on spending on overtime, bonus leave, allowances and transport hire.
Mr Putu firstly wanted to confirm that there had been no bank account irregularities whatsoever. He said that the AG had identified capacity limitations in CGE’s financial department, and CGE conceded this point, and was working to improve performance. For instance, bonuses were linked to performance review. Any instances of misconduct or negligence were recorded and taken through internal disciplinary processes. CGE aimed to remove or move any staff who had not been properly placed.
Mr Putu also said that junior staff, in particular, may be expected to work on public holidays, and they were remunerated for this ad hoc overtime. Some managers were entitled to fixed allowances, for example car, cellphone or medical aid allowances, but not everyone qualified automatically for these, as there were strict criteria. In terms of transport costs, CGE may require shuttle or bus services – for instance for trips to Parliament. There had been underspending in terms of media outreach, but a donor carried the bill in this case, which explained the underspending.
Ms Lamoela asked if the CGE made use of consultants, and, if so, wanted details of why this was done, the cost, and how many were employed.
Ms Maema responded that CGE did use consultants. CGE's communications strategy was found to be lacking, and consultants were brought in to address that. They were employed at deputy director level for six months, and were intended to empower and involve permanent staff in crafting the necessary documents.
Ms Lamoela asked for more information on the court case brought against the Commission's last Chairperson, Nomboniso Gasa.
Ms Maema said that this case was still pending in the High Court.
Ms Lamoela asked again whether there were any more donors to the CGE.
Ms Lamoela complimented Ms Stevens-Maziya on her explanation of the workings of the GBV Council, but commented that nothing more had been heard from it and requested follow-up on its activities.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that the GBV Council was not the project of the Gender Commission, but of the DWCPD. Once CGE had its report, it would report back.
Ms Lamoela knew that the Council was not the CGE's responsibility, but had enquired why it was not up and running.
Ms Stevens-Maziya said that the CGE report, which was not yet available, would give more details on the Council.
Ms Van der Merwe believed that the Commission spent too little money on its media outreach. The Commission was not visible enough, particularly in rural areas. She wondered if it had considered other innovative ways to become more accessible, for example through community newspapers and radio programmes.
Mr Mfanozelwe replied that communications was recognised as an important issue in the Commission's next strategic plan, which would be presented next week. Community media, whilst less expensive than mainstream media, were not cheap.
Ms Amanda Gouws, CGE Commissioner for the Western Cape, spoke also about the wider communications strategy, and confirmed that it involved print media, community radio and social media. A new policy had been adopted in the last plenary session, and CGE was gaining more visibility than in the past, since the new Commissioners had come on board.
Ms Maema said that CGE needed to enter into Memorandums of Understanding with the media, rather than interacting with them on an ad hoc basis.
The meeting was adjourned.
- CGE Policy briefs 4
- CGE Policy briefs 5
- CGE Ukuthwala in Kwazulu Natal: an Investigation into State Prevention and Response
- CGE Policy briefs 3
- Report: workshop on violation of children's rights: Ukuthwala
- South Africa's Child Support Grant: Summary findings
- 365 Days of Action Plan
- Action plan of report on violation of children's rights: Ukuthwala
- Introductory Comments by Chairperson Commission for Gender Equality
- CGE Financial activities and status 1 April to 31 December 2012
- CGE Presentation on activities of the CGE
- CGE 3rd quarter progress report on annual performance financial year 2012/13
- We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
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